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Inputs, Incentives, and Complementarities in Education: Experimental Evidence from Tanzania

Isaac Mbiti, Karthik Muralidharan (), Mauricio Romero (), Youdi Schipper, Constantine Manda and Rakesh Rajani

The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2019, vol. 134, issue 3, 1627-1673

Abstract: We present results from a large-scale randomized experiment across 350 schools in Tanzania that studied the impact of providing schools with (i) unconditional grants, (ii) teacher incentives based on student performance, and (iii) both of the above. After two years, we find (i) no impact on student test scores from providing school grants, (ii) some evidence of positive effects from teacher incentives, and (iii) significant positive effects from providing both programs. Most important, we find strong evidence of complementarities between the programs, with the effect of joint provision being significantly greater than the sum of the individual effects. Our results suggest that combining spending on school inputs (the default policy) with improved teacher incentives could substantially increase the cost-effectiveness of public spending on education.

Date: 2019
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